Artlink unveiling its ‘safe space to create’

May 9th, 2017

Studio to open with 3-D capabilities

By Terri Richardson | The Journal Gazette

In an effort to provide a safe space for high school students and the community, Artlink is launching an Open Arts studio, which will include a virtual reality creative space, the agency announced Monday.

Matt McClure, executive director of Artlink, said the agency will relaunch its educational programming under the umbrella of Artlink Open Arts, a public art creative space and resource studio. The studio will officially open in the fall but will have limited hours in June.

One of the big components of the studio will be two virtual reality sets that will use the HTC Vive, along with Google's Tilt Brush app. The sets will allow people to create in a variety of media, such as 3-D sculpting, fashion and public art. Each virtual reality set will have goggles, two hand-held wands and two sensors that provide users a grid in which to access the virtual space. The images created will be visible to onlookers by a large high-definition monitor.

McClure said that over the past few years, Artlink has seen the cultivating of creative drive and natural artistic expression going away. That is especially true with high school students who oftentimes are being smothered by class assignments and don't have the opportunity to create freely. “There is no safe space to create,” McClure said.

The idea for the Open Arts studio is to provide that safe space where people who don't have access to creative tools can come and do whatever, McClure said. “We are investing in these tools,” he said.

While McClure wouldn't provide an amount for how much the studio and its equipment will cost, he did say that the money is being provided by donors. The money will help purchase equipment that will be available at the studio for those to create, as well as the VR headsets, which can cost a couple of thousand dollars for one headset, he said.

The VR space will be located in the educational wing of Artlink, 300 E. Main St., and public access will be available in half-hour increments with varied pricing for members and non-members. Initial studio time is from noon to 7 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays. 

The studio will have a special emphasis on programming aimed at high school students, McClure said. He said that during set times each week, the studio will be reserved for students to use the space to create. In addition, one to two professional artists will be working on a project alongside the students, which provides them an opportunity to interact with the artists, ask questions and learn in a more relaxed environment.

McClure said that Art­link wants to be at the forefront of pushing a creative arts community and developing resources and a support system for artists to work professionally in their chosen field.

“We are the place where local and regional artists come to push a big idea,” he said.

Click here to se a video of a demonstration of Artlink's new virtual reality headsets, which will be used in its new Open Arts studio.